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Asian Qualifiers - Group G: Vietnam hold off Malaysia to maintain lead

Dubai: Vietnam secured a hard fought 2-1 win against Malaysia on Friday to stay top of Group G of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

The two teams came into this game on the back of entirely opposing fortunes: Malaysia lost their last match 4-0 against the United Arab Emirates, while Vietnam beat Indonesia 4-0 and cemented their strong position with a win, also avoiding loss so far since the Qualifiers began.

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The first chance of the game fell to Vietnam, with Doan Van Hau marauding down the left flank and cutting inside before blasting a shot from range that went through a sea of legs, marginally missing keeper Farizal Marlias’ far post. Nguyen Hoang Duc followed up a few minutes later with a blistering strike from range, but Marlias held.

With 27 minutes gone, Nguyen Tien Linh made amends for a miss just minutes earlier, when following a set-piece, a number of frenzied headers flew across the six yard box, ended by his header that settled in the net to make the score 1-0.

Malaysia almost drew level five minutes before the break when Syafiq Ahmed headed a perfectly weighted cross straight at goal, but Bui Tan Truong produced a stunning reaction save to tip it away.

Safawi Rasid and Guilherme Lucrecio both missed golden chances as Malaysia pressed for the equaliser, the former’s free-kick hit the post on its way out while the latter’s shot marginally missed the target thanks to a block from the Vietnamese defence.

Malaysia finally got themselves level after Doan Van Hau jumped into Rasid as he was trying to claim a long ball, with the referee pointing to the spot instantly. Lucrecio stepped up and scored on 72 minutes to bring them level on 1-1.

Brendan Gan conceded a penalty with nine minutes left on the clock, and Vietnamese captain Que Ngoc Hai slammed it into the back of the net to take his side 2-1 in front.

The result sends Vietnam into their crucial match against the UAE with a two-point lead, while Malaysia stay in fourth place on nine points and face Thailand in their final tie.

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